I’ve helped to organize and will present at Artists Against All Odds on May 4/5 in Beirut. The meeting is a part of the Spring Festival, an annual event in Cairo, Tunis and Beirut by El Mawred Culture Resource. Since parts of the meeting are closed, I’ll paste only the public session here:
Artists Against All Odds – Open Panel discussion
Increasing numbers of artists are, through their artistic expression, supporting human rights and social justice objectives for their communities. In return they can face varying degrees and forms of risk. Several initiatives have seen light to ensure the safety of those professionals and the continuation of the important work they do. What are these initiatives and what challenges are they facing today?
Speakers: Todd Lanier Lester (ArtistSafety.net), Helge Lund (ICORN), Ossama Rifai (AFAC), Rana Yazagi (Mawred), Ferdinand Richard (Roberto Cimetta fund), Laila Hourani (Ford Foundation) — Moderated by Alma Salem (Syria/Canada)
ROUNDTABLES AND PUBLIC DISCUSSIONS: ARTISTS AGAINST ALL ODDS:
Increasing numbers of artists and culture workers are using art as a form of expression to support human rights and social justice objectives for their communities. In return, often they face physical violence, persecution, imprisonment and, at times, death. It has become crucial that organizations focusing on human rights, freedom of expression and culture collectively work together to ensure the safety of artists and cultural managers at risk, and the continuation of the important work they do for society. For the first time in the Arab region, Culture Resource, in consultation with Artistsafety.net, is creating a platform within the Spring Festival program to bring together regional and international stakeholders concerned with the safety of artists and cultural professionals for a two-day closed,consultation meeting. Taking place in Beirut, Artists Against All Odds is an initiative that invites a wide range of arts and non-arts actors from Lebanon (as a starting focal point) and the Arab region with international actors, to share perspectives, information and resources necessary to create a local/regional safety net for artists and cultural communicators facing repression, persecution and human rights violations as a result of their work. In tandem with the closed meetings, two public sessions have been organized to open the conversations to the general audience. The first is a panel discussion, Artists Against All Odds, on the challenges facing artists today and the initiatives available to help ensure their safety. The second event, Sound Syria, is a public talk with Tania el Khoury (LB), Lama Kabbanji (LB) and Sana Yazigi (SY) and which focuses on the telling of stories as a political act. The speakers, whether as artists or activists, use art to challenge the grand narratives imposed on people by oppressive regimes, counterrevolutionary forces and mainstream media.